Black Kite

Black Kite perched in a dead tree
The Black Kite is a familiar bird around outback towns

What does it look like? This medium-sized dark brown bird of prey is a common sight around bush fires, where it seizes the unfortunate insects and small animals that flee the flames. Its drab plumage makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish from other birds of prey, such as the Little Eagle, Whistling Kite and Square-tailed Kite.  In flight, however, its long forked tail and almost unmarked underwing makes it unmistakable.

Where does it live? Its range covers the majority of the Australian mainland, as well as Europe, Africa and Asia.

What are its habitats and habits? The Black Kite is found in a wide variety of habitats, from timbered watercourses to open plains and outback towns, but it avoids the wetter areas.  While it takes a large percentage of insects, especially grasshoppers when they are swarming, it has also become a scavenger.  Due to this it is a familiar bird around outback towns, being a regular visitor to the local tip.  Often, the Black Kite may form huge flocks of many thousand birds, but it is more normally seen in small groups or alone.  The call is a whistled “psee-err”, followed by a repeated “si-si-si”.  This call is similar to that of the Whistling Kite.

Scientific name: Haliastur migrans

Sizes: Total Length – 47 to 55 cm